- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

As pretty does

“Beauty exists, and it’s unevenly distributed. Our eyes and brains pretty consistently like some human forms better than others. Shown photos of strangers, even babies look longer at the faces that adults rank the best-looking. Whether you prefer Nicole Kidman to Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez to Halle Berry, or Queen Latifah to Kate Moss may be a matter of taste, but rare is the beholder who would declare Holly Hunter or Whoopi Goldberg — neither of whom is homely — more beautiful than any of these women. …

“We know beauty when we see it, and our reactions are remarkably consistent. Beauty is not just a social construct, and not every girl is beautiful just the way she is. …

“Like the rest of the genetic lottery, beauty is unfair. Everyone falls short of perfection, but some are luckier than others. Real confidence requires self-knowledge, which includes recognizing one’s shortcomings as well as one’s strengths.”

— Virginia Postrel, writing on “The Truth About Beauty,” in the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly

Space sex?

“Astronaut Lisa Nowak is facing attempted murder charges after she drove nearly 1,000 miles to confront a rival for the affections of another astronaut, Bill Oefelein. Nowak said that she and Oefelein had ‘more than a working relationship, but less than a romantic relationship.’ …

“Nowak and Oefelein were never on the same mission, so they couldn’t possibly have joined the 62-mile-high club. But some of their colleagues may well have engaged in some extraterrestrial hanky-panky. Former and current astronauts don’t like to talk about space-shuttle sex, and NASA says that if it’s ever happened, the agency doesn’t know anything about it. …

“Of course, speculation has been rampant. The first mission that included both men and women launched in 1982. But on that flight, cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya’s reputation for toughness, not to mention her married status, stamped out rumors. The first married couple went to space in 1991, when training-camp sweethearts Jan Davis and Mark Lee served together on a mission. NASA normally has a policy against letting married couples fly together, not because they’re afraid they’ll have sex, but because it might hurt the team dynamic. However, they made an exception for Davis and Lee since the couple got married so close to launch time. … Both have refused to answer questions about the nature of their relationship during the mission.”

— Christopher Beam, writing on “Do Astronauts Have Sex?” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Feminists vs. fact

“The feminist establishment in the universities claims to speak for all women. Anyone who disagrees with them is dubbed a ‘backlasher’ — a traitor to her gender. I have been called anti-woman, and on one occasion even a non-woman. One angry critic called me a ‘female impersonator.’ The result of all this hostility is that moderate, conservative and libertarian women stay far away from women’s studies — and from feminist groups in general. …

“American women — as a group — are not oppressed. In fact, they are among the most favored, privileged and blessed group of human beings in the world. To most students, this rings true. But for those who have taken a lot of ‘feminist theory’ … those are fighting words. They insist they are oppressed and resent the suggestion they are not.”

— Christina Hoff Sommers, author of “Who Stole Feminism?” interviewed by Bernard Chapin Thursday in the American Specator Online at www.spectator.org

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